HANCEVILLE, Ala. — Mother Angelica’s life must be viewed in reference to Jesus, the homilist at her funeral Mass said on Friday.
“We cannot understand Mother Angelica without reference to the One that she loved with the passion of a bride, Jesus, the Eternal Word, who became man and dwelt among us,” said Father Joseph Mary Wolfe, of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, in his homily at the funeral Mass for Mother Angelica, foundress of EWTN and abbess emerita at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Ala.
“Her legacy is a legacy of his work in her,” Father Joseph Mary added.
An estimated 2,000 mourners attended Mother Angelica’s funeral Mass at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, 45 miles north of Birmingham.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia celebrated the Mass, joined by the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, as well as Bishop Thomas Olmstead of Phoenix, Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville, Tenn., Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham, and his predecessor, Bishop David Foley, Mother’s longtime bishop.
Archbishop Vigano read aloud a message from Pope Francis at the end of the Mass.
“His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the death of Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation and extends heartfelt condolences to the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery and to the EWTN community,” he said.
Pope Francis showed his “gratitude for Mother Angelica’s service to the Gospel through social communications and through a life of prayer,” he continued. “The Holy Father commends her soul to the merciful love of Almighty God.”
In his homily, Father Joseph Mary reflected that Christ, Mother Angelica’s “Bridegroom,” prompted her work at EWTN. She defended Church teaching because of Jesus.
Pointing to her healing as a teenager, he quoted her as saying she had previously been a “lukewarm” Catholic, but afterward “had a whole different attitude,” saying, “All I wanted to do after that healing was to give myself to Jesus.”
She carried this love with her for the rest of her life, especially in her work at EWTN, he noted.
“What was it that prompted the transformation of a garage into a television studio? The divinity of Jesus must be upheld,” he said. “He is the Eternal Word, the Divine Son of God. He is the Bridegroom of the Church, and thus hers [Mother’s].”
“As a faithful bride, she would defend the One she was wed to,” he added. “It was love for Jesus that impelled her.”
“Do we love Jesus enough to defend him?” he asked the congregants.
He noted Mother’s love for the Eucharist, lived out in her daily adoration and reception of holy Communion. She was “able to give life,” he said, “because [Jesus] gave life to her.”
Another legacy of Mother Angelica’s was her message of the “call to holiness being attainable for everyone,” Father Joseph Mary pointed out. She “cared deeply about the ordinary person,” and “hers was a practical spirituality for the man in the pew.”
“I think everyone here wants to be a saint,” he said. “Mother helped us to believe that it is attainable.”
He quoted Sister Mary Michael, who came to Alabama with Mother Angelica in 1962, as noted in a Register article. Mother had a “wealth of spiritual knowledge,” combined with “experience” and “common sense,” he said, and she had a gift for seeing the “root of the problem.”
She even had a “yelling theology” she used if there was no other way to reach a person who wasn’t listening, he quipped. But “she never crushed you,” he added: She let you know afterward that she still loved you.
Mother had to live through many illnesses and difficulties, but she never got discouraged, Father Joseph Mary said. She saw setbacks as an “opportunity to look for a solution,” and through trust in God, “what seemed to be setbacks” would turn into “something better,” he noted.
“No pity parties allowed,” he said, explaining Mother’s outlook.
“Her only fear was not to do God’s will.”